A few weeks ago, Stuart and I both happened to be in London for work at the same time. We decided to meet for dinner after work one night in the middle of where we were both staying. I was on one side of the Thames, he was on the other. We had lots of choice of where we could meet but we opted for Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, as it is close to a tube link (Leicester Square) and Jamie Oliver is one of our favourite chefs. In my pre-blogging days, we dined at Fifteen Cornwall twice and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
We arrived at the restaurant at 6:50pm on a Wednesday evening and people were already queuing to dine there. You are not able to book a table at any of the restaurants (other locations include; Bath, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Reading) unless you are in a group of 8-16 people. We waited for 5 minutes in the queue and were greeted warmly and efficiently by a member of staff who told us that a table for two would take 40 minutes. She took a mobile phone number and gave us a pager that is supposed to beep/flash/makes lots of noise when your table is ready and told us to go for a drink nearby. We found a pub around the corner, had a drink and exactly 40 minutes later, we were called (the pager did not work) and told us our table was ready.
On our return to the restaurant, the place was buzzing with music, chatter and laughter. Various types of hams and other preserved meats hung on a wall, wine bottles in glass cases were used to decorate walls and the kitchen was open for people to see into as they entered the restaurant. We were taken to the downstairs seating area, which was quieter than the main floor above.
Our menus were brought over and soon it was decision time. The menus at all Jamie’s Italian locations changes seasonally and most use the same menu, with some local variation. Apologies for the quality of photos in this post, the restaurant was quite dark and I did not want to use a flash as I would have disturbed my fellow diners. To start, we shared the Selection of Top Italian Breads and the World’s Best Olives on Ice. My favourite of the breads was the rosemary focaccia as it was light but chunky at the same time and full of flavour. The olives were fresh and tasted delicious.
Next we shared an Seasonal Meat Antipasti Plank, which included mortadella, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and a crunchy salad. The plank was rested on two tins of Italian tomatoes which gave it a rustic charm. I loved the prosciutto and the crunchy salad. The little balls of mozzarella were amazing too. They were so sweet and creamy.
For our mains, I had Shell Roasted Brixham King Scallops with crispy pancetta on a fresh tomato salsa. They were fantastic scallops. Big, fat and juicy but in the spicy crumb, they were a bit lost. It was a shame really. It could have been an incredible dish. I still ate it all though. Stuart had the Feather Steak and we both shared the sides of braised fennel with anchovies and chilli and funky chips with garlic and parsley. The chips were amazing. I will definitely try serving them like that at home. They were yummy!
For pudding I had honeycomb and vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb chocolate bits. It was heaven! I love honeycomb and there was lots of it. Simple and delicious. Stuart had a fresh and zingy lemon sorbet, which he enjoyed as well.
Overall, we had a really enjoyable experience at Jamie’s Italian. I loved nearly everything, even the napkins! (See photo at top of post). A new Jamie’s Italian opened this week in the Bullring, Birmingham, just down the road from me and I cannot wait to try it!